Actors of Color Shut Out by Academy: Oscars Under Fire for Lack of Diversity Again

Female directors also failed to earn any nominations – for the sixth year in a row

Photo: Jaimie Trueblood

Last year, the Academy Awards drew criticism for failing to nominate any actors and actresses of color – and this year it’s more of the same.

The 2016 crop of Oscar nominees is once again solely composed of white actors and actresses, despite the Academy taking steps to addresses diversity.

Among the most glaring omissions this year is Straight Outta Compton in the Best Picture category. The film, which follows the rise of hip-hop group N.W.A, was both a commercial and critical success, and earned recognition from groups including the Screen Actors Guild, which nominated the cast for best ensemble award, and a Producers Guild Award for best motion picture. The film did earn a Best Original Screenplay nomination Thursday.

Ice Cube, a producer on the film that featured his story prominently – with real-life son O’Shea Jackson Jr. portraying him onscreen – addressed the brewing controversy while appearing on The Wendy Williams Show Thursday.

When Williams said she expected the film to get more nominations, he replied “Me, too! I’m not pissed. I’m not surprised. It’s the Oscars, they do what they do. The people loved the movie, the people supported the movie, it was No. 1 at the box office over $200 million worldwide. I can’t be mad, you know.”

Also shut out Thursday were Will Smith for Concussion, Michael B. Jordan in Creed, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight and Puerto Rican-born Benicio del Toro in Sicario.

The Academy has attempted to become more inclusive after the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag trended on Twitter last year.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the group invited a more diverse group of industry notables to join its ranks this past July, including Selma star David Oyelowo, Concussion actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Compton director F. Gary Gray.

The group also announced a new initiative, A2020, to further diversify the Academy itself and also encourage the industry to open up more opportunities for women and minorities.

Female directors were also shut out of the Oscar race on Thursday – for the sixth year in a row. Last year, the Academy sparked criticism when it failed to nominated Ava DuVernay for Selma, despite the film earning a Best Picture nomination.

This year, no female directors were even considered seriously in contention for an Oscar nod. Kathyrn Bigelow is the most recent female director to garner a Best Director nomination, for The Hurt Locker in 2010. Bigelow also brought home the award that year, making her the first – and only – female director to bring home the Best Director trophy.

Shortly after the nominations were announced, social media was flooded with comments from users who pointed out the lack of diversity among the nominees.

Ricky Gervais, fresh off his envelope-pushing hosting gig at the Golden Globes on Sunday, stayed as edgy as ever on Thursday, making a jab about the lack of color among the nominees.

“Why did the Oscars announce all the white nominees first?” he wrote.

Gabourey Sidibe, a 2010 Oscar nominee for her role in Precious also addressed the issue when she retweeted a comment from Lena Waithe, who stars on Aziz Ansari’s hit Netflix show Master of None.

“Dear black people, don’t be pissed will smith wasn’t nominated, be pissed that Idris Elba and Jason Mitchell and Michael B Jordan weren’t.”

Other users revived the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and expressed disappointment that Straight Outta Compton failed to earn a Best Picture nomination – and pointed out that the people who were nominated for penning the Best Original Screenplay are actually white.

“But what about ‘Straight Outta Compton’ for Best Screenplay?” Two white folks wrote it. #OscarsSoWhite,” wrote one.

“A film directed by a black man with 5 black men in leads. HOWEVER only 2 white scriptwriters get nominated. #StraightOuttaCompton #OscarNoms” wrote one user.

#OscarsSoWhite that Rocky got nominated in a movie about Apollo Creed’s son,” wrote another.

Stars including Carson Daly also supported the film on Twitter.

“#StraightOuttaCompton #OscarNoms Come on!!!” he wrote.

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